Since the introduction of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine Gardasil in 2006, infections in women and girls have been by more than half. This statistic exceeds the expectations of researchers and although this progress is encouraging, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention Director Thomas Frieden stated, “the report should be a wake-up call to our nation to protect the next generation by increasing HPV vaccination rates.”
The fact that the infection rate has dropped so much comes as a surprise because the inoculation rate in the U.S. is relatively low: only a third of girls ages 13 to 17 in the U.S. have been vaccinated. Unfortunately, HPV vaccinations have been dogged by “moral panic” concerns that vaccinating adolescent girls will encourage them to be promiscuous — which is flat-out not true. Keep reading »
Important news about your vagina: the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says that instead of annual Pap smears, you can now get screened for cervical cancer every three years. ACOG has actually been saying for awhile that women don’t need annual Pap smears, but this recommendation was finally put in writing yesterday by the United States Preventative Task Force and the American Cancer Society.
So, why have the recommendations changed? Keep reading »
Yesterday, I posted an open call for emails from people I’ve given (published) advice to here in the past to let me know whether they followed my advice and/or the advice from commenters, and how they’re doing today. I expected I might hear from people who didn’t like what I had to say, as well as from those who did. I’ve gotten a lot of grief for some of the advice I’ve given, and occasionally — not very often, but sometimes — I’ll have second thoughts about something I’ve said … or the way I’ve said it. Never has this been more the case than with the person you’ll hear from after the jump. She hated my “advice,” and rightfully so. We had some back-and-forth email exchanges afterward in which I said some more things I now regret. I ended up apologizing, but judging from the email she sent yesterday, she’s still pissed. Anyway, it was a learning lesson for me and for that I thank her. I’ve tried to be less presumptuous while still telling it like I see it and doling out “tough love” when it seems necessary, but sometimes I make mistakes. I’m human; it happens. After the jump, check out one of my biggest missteps. Keep reading »
If you’re twiddling your thumbs in L.A. today, have we got the plans for you! Kathy Griffin is getting a poolside Pap smear at the Palomar Hotel for her show, “My Life on the D-List.” Yes, a Pap smear. The comedienne says she hopes to raise awareness about cervical cancer. But let’s get real: if the media’s been invited to watch her her OB-GYN go spelunking outdoors at a hotel pool, Kathy Griffin really hopes to raise awareness about Kathy Griffin. But, hey, it’s a noble enough goal.
What we really want to know, though, is will Levi Johnston be there? [Washington Post] Keep reading »
Did you know that January is Cervical Health Awareness Month? Yeah, me neither. Luckily the folks at Some E-Cards are all up on it. Since HPV is the leading cause of cervical cancer, they’ve created a line of actually funny HPV-themed cards. Check them out here. Keep reading »
I’m sorry, but are our country’s medical agencies smoking something? Just a few days after new breast cancer screening guidelines recommended mammograms only for women 50 and older and declared self-breast exams moot, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists is now telling women to delay getting their first pap smear until they are 21 and to get them less often afterwards. This is pretty confusing because, until today, the rule was that women should have their first terribly uncomfortable meeting with the dreaded stirrups shortly after becoming sexual active, and that they should get a pap every year at their annual check-up. So why the change? ACOG says that in young women, HPV—the virus that can lead to cervical cancer—is very prevalent and that the huge majority of women clear the virus on their own, without any medical intervention. They say that there are only one to two cases of cervical cancer a year for every million women between the ages of 15 and 19. But because testing has become so routine, ACOG says that young women who are very unlikely to develop cervical cancer are getting invasive procedures to remove precancerous growths and cells that would clear on their own. And that they’re having complications, like injury to the cervix, that can cause problems if they have a baby. As for recommending less frequent testing, ACOG argues that cervical cancer develops slowly—it can take 10 to 20 years—so can be caught early even with less rigorous testing. [NY Times]
While these arguments sound logical, I have a hard time believing that this can be a good idea. And honestly, it makes me pretty mad. Keep reading »